Unrecord: Photorealistic graphics explained

When Unrecord’s trailer came out a few days back, it became and the talk of town because of its highly realistic graphics. In fact, the graphics are so photorealistic that people have claimed that the developers are faking it and that the trailer is nothing more than live-action footage of guys running around and pointing guns at each other. 

What is Unrecord? 

Being developed by Drama, an indie gaming studio based in France, Unrecord is a narrative-based first-person shooter where you play as a police officer who is working on a complex case. The story is said to be comparable to detective novels and is said to contain tough moral dilemmas. 

While the trailer does seem to hint at that, what made the game blow up are the photorealistic graphics.

How does Unrecord achieve its photorealistic graphics?

There are quite a few things that make Unrecord look so real. The biggest reason for its realistic graphics is the engine it’s being made on, and that is Unreal Engine 5.

Unreal Engine 5 needs no introduction as it went viral itself for its ability to render realistic-looking objects along with other features when it was announced. 

The next method, albeit a subtle one, is a technique known as ‘Trompe l’oeil’. It’s a technique used by artists to achieve realistic-looking 2D images by making clever use of perspective, which tricks the eye into thinking the 2D image it’s seeing is actually a 3D object. That coupled with muted and realistic lighting enhances the realistic look of Unrecord

The third factor that makes Unrecord look so realistic also happens to be the stand-out feature of the game, and that is the body cam footage-style camera.

The whole game is shown through the lens of a body cam attached to a police officer the players get to control. The developers also employ a subtle distortion effect when the players move the character or the camera to hide the details, or the lack thereof which adds to the illusion of realism.

That’s not to say the game doesn’t have details. It’s just that if you look close enough, you will find minuscule things that might be immersion-breaking. It’s still a game after all. 

Speaking of hiding details, it is probably why the developers chose to blur the faces of characters in the game. Apart from adding to the immersion, it is a clever way of hiding one of the hardest things to get right in a video game. Be it the details or the animations, faces have always been tricky to execute in games. 

The realistic movement and animations also add to the effect of realism. Whether it is the slight variations in the way the arm moves while pointing the gun, or the shaking of the camera while traversing the building, it all just makes it seem like real body cam footage of a police officer on duty that one might find on a website like LiveLeak.  

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The audience’s reaction to Unrecord

There will of course be scepticists who doubt the credibility of things and Unrecord is not free of them. Some say that the trailer is fake and a live-action enactment.

Few say the graphics might be real, but it is not in-game footage. So that begs the question, is Unrecord just another game that will garner a lot of hype and disappoint players once it’s released like so many other games before it? Or is it all fake and is the trailer just GoPro footage of a bunch of guys running around pointing guns at each other in an abandoned building made to look like a game with some skillful video editing?

Well, it seems neither as Alexandre Spindler, one of the developers at Drama, took to Twitter to answer some of the common accusations. 

“For those who thought Unrecord was fake or a video, sorry,” Spindler said in the Tweet, and with it showed a video where he freely moves the camera around in one of the game’s environments. 

Some people were still unconvinced, but Twitter user @Daahrien came to Drama’s defense and pointed out that the assets used in Unrecord can be found in the Unreal Engine Marketplace. 

Some have expressed their distress over the realistic graphics and its implications. One such person is @Trainwreckstv who in a Tweet said: “I’m going to get a lot of hate for this – but this level of realism in video games should be heavily moderated in *shooter* for anyone *under a certain age*, I hope parents do their job…” which is a valid concern one could say. 

More moral questions come to mind such as will photorealistic graphics desensitize gamers to violence? Do we even need photorealistic graphics in the first place? They might be answered when Unrecord eventually comes out on PC.

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